With the season on the line yet again this Sunday, the Minnesota Vikings will travel to the Lone Star state to take on the Houston Texans. Just as the past few weeks, the Vikings will be playing for their playoff lives.
Let’s take a look at the keys to victory for the purple and gold in week 16:
Slow Down the Texans’ High-Powered Offense, Continue to Make Game-Changing Plays on Defense
Playing on their home turf with many offensive weapons in place, the Texans are just flat out a tough team to beat. They currently rank sixth in the league for total offense (386.7) and third in the league in PPG (28.1). With Arian Foster and Andre Johnson on the field, it’s going to create matchup problems for any defense.
The Vikings will get some help as cornerback Chris Cook is expected to return after missing several weeks with a broken arm, and other than that, the defense is fairly healthy. DE Brian Robison will be limited if he does play, but backup Everson Griffen is easily as good, if not better than Robison.
The defense is going to be very close to full strength and must continue to make plays like the past two weeks. You’re not going to completely stop an offense like the Texans, and any big interceptions or forced fumbles could be the difference in the game.
All Day, Adrian Peterson
For the Vikings to have any chance Sunday Peterson will have to continue his MVP caliber play. Does the team need another 200-yard performance? No, but it certainly wouldn’t hurt either. AP must at least break the 100-yard mark and find the end zone for the Vikings to have a chance at victory.
Someone Else Must be a Difference-Maker on Offense
Fans are not going to be picky when it comes to this topic, but someone other than AP has to have a big day for the Vikings. The most likely candidate would be tight end Kyle Rudolph, but I’m hoping backup tight end John Carlson finally has a breakthrough game. Carlson had his best game of the season last week, catching three passes for 17 yards. While that is normally nothing to get excited about, it’s by far the most fans have seen from Carlson in 2012.
If Carlson can somehow step up and catch five passes and at least be another threat out there, it should do wonders for the passing attack, which will just make things easier on Peterson.
It’s crunch time and if Minnesota wants to keep playing in January, the time is now for someone else to be a factor.
As always, all I’m asking of Christian Ponder: don’t turn the ball over.
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